RECIPE: Extra-quick chicken piccata without a meat mallet

Chicken Piccata


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As long as you’re not wanting to go wild with extra ingredients, chicken piccata is naturally friendly to a 5:30 Challenge makeover. You needn’t cut any of its core ingredients — chicken, flour, capers, butter and lemon — for a streamlined version of the dish. The main challenge is to cut down on prep time.

Piccata is typically made with thin, pounded chicken breast cutlets, which, while not hard to trim and flatten at home, can take some time. Instead, I like to use prepped chicken tenders. These are easy to find at the store, cook quickly and don’t require pulling out a meat mallet.

Instead of using wine in the sauce, I’ve used water and a generous amount of lemon juice to make up for the wine’s acidity. Flour left behind in the skillet from breading and browning the chicken will thicken up the lemony water into a luscious sauce in just a few minutes.

I like to serve the piccata straight from the skillet with plenty of rice on the side for drizzling with the sauce.

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Chicken Piccata
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 pounds chicken tenders
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons drained capers
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice, plus lemon wedges for garnish
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • On the side: Steamed rice and green beans
  • Place the flour in a shallow bowl and season with 2 teaspoons kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Add the chicken and turn to coat evenly in the flour mixture. Shake off excess flour and transfer to a plate.
  • Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the butter is foamy, add the chicken and cook until browned on both sides, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer the chicken to a clean plate, leaving all of the butter behind in the skillet. Add the capers to the skillet and cook, stirring constantly, for 30 seconds.
  • Pour in the water and lemon juice and bring to a simmer, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the skillet. Return the chicken to the skillet, along with any juices on the plate. Reduce the heat to medium, cover, and continue to cook until the chicken is cooked through, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, uncover, stir in the parsley, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve. Serves 4.

Nutritional information

Per serving: Per serving: 360 calories (percent of calories from fat, 44), 38 grams protein, 12 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram fiber, 17 grams total fat (8 grams saturated), 165 milligrams cholesterol, 589 milligrams sodium.
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